Where have all of the green spaces and trees gone?

by Mike Aux-Tinee.

I remember growing up, there were these wild spaces at the end of the street. They would mark the furthest point of suburbia. One step off the concrete and you would be immediately transported to a wild and lawless land that was filled with really cool places to explore. But they were so much more than that!

For those of us who were brave, this place was wonderful. Here, the grass would grow as high as your knees, the bugs and wily animals would be the primary occupants and of course, there would be so many trees.

These places are magical to me. They remind me of my childhood, how my friends and I would run and play and just let loose. You never knew what you would find there because each place was different. Most of the land was used for farming before suburbia clawed its way – inch by inch forward.

I miss a lot about these places and especially the trees. There is something so cool about sitting under them, taking a break from running around and my favorite of all – climbing them to get a better view. As if what I saw – suburbia destroying the next field was worth risking falling and breaking something.

There seems to be this virus permeating through our society and especially through the municipal governments – that there must be more homes, strip malls and huge monster big box stores. Just so more tax revenue can be generated and then wasted on pork barrel projects or worse, given to favorite corporations so they can pad their pockets at the expense of both the tax payers and these green spaces with trees.

So bring in the heavy equipment to bulldoze all the trees down. Then comes the utility companies, developers, and finally you and me to fill in what was created.

It’s a win-win (sort of) for everyone involved or so those making the money tells us. Because we all know, we need another subdivision or strip mall like we need another hole in our head! We cheer the progress, the municipalities cheer the additional tax revenues – as if more money will make things better and then the developers cheer their wonderful creations and look for more places to do it all over.

It really is a never-ending cycle. Suburbia claws its way, tearing up more and more. And from where I sit and my point of view, I think it’s all a big mistake.

Why is that?

Well, we need these green spaces, the trees, and of course, kids like me to play in them. I know, there are ‘special’ places like that we can all congregate in called parks. But they feel sterile, without character and are an attempt to control nature.

I am going to share with you why we need not only to stop cutting down trees (and tearing up the green spaces), but need to be replacing the ones that were torn out.

The trees perform a number of very important functions that, once gone, this place just ain’t going to be the same. In fact, it will be to our detriment not our benefit.

The first thing the trees do is break down the carbon dioxide that is produced. And then through photosynthesis creates energy for the tree to grow and oxygen for you and I to breathe. The trees are cleaning up the atmosphere and producing something that every living thing on the planet needs to survive. Once the trees are cut down, there will be more carbon dioxide and the air will not be as clean.

The second thing trees do, is not only absorb sunlight for their own use but reflect it back into space. This does a number of things for the planet. One, we get bigger trees (which produces more oxygen) they will help keep the temperature of the planet cooler. (No, don’t worry, an ice age is not on the way. It’s about keeping balance.) Trees are an integral part of the cooling mechanism that maintains an equilibrium for life to continue.

Cutting down the trees, the earth will absorb more sunlight and become hotter. This will cause other plants and animals (who can not tolerate the higher temperatures) to die off. When this happens, the environment will begin to change and not for the better.

The third thing trees do is provide a home and food for those wily animals. From the nut producing trees to the older stable trees that birds build their nests in, a tree is a part of a large ecosystem.

It’s not something we actively think about when we look at them. But take a walk in the park, where there is actual woods and just sit, watch and listen. You will find so many animals moving around, searching for food, shelter and various other activities. This is where Mother Nature does her thing and if you cut it all down, the plant and animal diversity will take a sharp  nose dive.

Can we stop what we are doing and turn back the clock? No. But we can stop the mindless progress and destruction of trees and the green spaces. I know, that is easier said that done. After all, there is another door buster sale that you just have to get to so you can fill up your house with more stuff. Or give a special someone that must have gadget that they will lose interest in or will break some time down the road. And worst of all, there are those slick talking politicians who will do and say anything to keep you from interfering in their schemes to funnel more tax payer money to their campaign contributors.

It’s not going to be easy, but here is a place that you can start. http://www.arborday.org/

Peace Dudes!

Mike

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The way we live now.

By Mike Aux-Tinee.

I picked up Walden by Henry David Thoreau and started reading it again. The book is about his two year stay at Walden Pond. He shares his observations of Walden Pond: the changing seasons, the people who live and work close by and how he survived during his stay. Blended in are his ideas about work, possessions and what to do with free time. One of his themes is that we should not strive to gain possessions (which forces us to work more) but rather find a balance between work, what we really need to survive and continual personal development.

He was criticized for his way of life and for not doing more with his extra time; like helping the poor. They all thought what he was doing was not right, but he thought it was quite normal.

The more I think about what Thoreau did, the more I think he might be onto something. That what we really need, is not to be in a continual race to accumulate more things but rather to realize what we really need to survive and take the time to develop our personal interests and passions.

Someone would inevitably state that it’s not normal too.

I  am rather bothered by someone who makes a moral judgement about another person. Then point the finger very quickly, condemning them for the way they want to live as not normal, as if they are the barometer of what is and is not normal.

Here are some things that I came up with that we accept as normal in our lives :

1. According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry http://www.aacap.org/cs/root/facts_for_families/obesity_in_children_and_teens, between 16 and 33 percent of children and adolescents are obese. Unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for over 300,000 deaths each year. The annual cost to society for obesity is estimated at nearly $100 billion. Overweight children are much more likely to become overweight adults unless they adopt and maintain healthier patterns of eating and exercise.

What is obesity?
A few extra pounds does not suggest obesity. However they may indicate a tendency to gain weight easily and a need for changes in diet and/or exercise. Generally, a child is not considered obese until the weight is at least 10 percent higher than what is recommended for their height and body type. Obesity most commonly begins between the ages of 5 and 6, or during adolescence. Studies have shown that a child who is obese between the ages of 10 and 13 has an 80 percent chance of becoming an obese adult.

What causes obesity?
The causes of obesity are complex and include genetic, biological, behavioral and cultural factors. Obesity occurs when a person eats more calories than the body burns up. If one parent is obese, there is a 50 percent chance that their children will also be obese. However, when both parents are obese, their children have an 80 percent chance of being obese. Although certain medical disorders can cause obesity, less than 1 percent of all obesity is caused by physical problems. Obesity in childhood and adolescence can be related to:

  • poor eating habits
  • overeating or binging
  • lack of exercise (i.e., couch potato kids)

2. We are creating so much pollution by our activities. According to Green Student U, http://www.greenstudentu.com/encyclopedia/pollution

Every year millions of tons of toxic chemicals are dumped or released into the land, air and water. This hazardous waste causes us to lose over 15 million acres of land every year, leads to respiratory complications and it makes our rivers and lakes too polluted for us to swim in and drink.

But factories are only part of the problem of pollution. Pollution is caused by industrial and commercial waste, agriculture practices, everyday human activities and most notably, modes of transportation. No matter where you go and what you do, there are remnants of pollution.

 

3. We are carrying too much debt and doing so is not good for us. According to the web site, http://www.ehow.com/about_5278109_much-owe-credit-card-debt.html

In 2009 the average American owed $8,400 in credit card debt. Up to 40 percent of American households spend more money annually than they make. In fact close to 80 percent of Americans have one or more credit cards. The U.S. Census Bureau reported that credit card debt is growing and predicted that about 181 million Americans would owe credit card debt by 2010. That figure is up from 163 million Americans in 2008.

The use of credit cards and the resulting debt that has plagued American consumers is widespread with college students. Up to 84 percent of all college students have credit card accounts; on average undergraduates are $2,500 in debt. In 2008 more than 98 percent of undergraduate students had a credit history, which means they have borrowed money in some form. Credit card debt has become accepted as normal and a customary way to buy now and pay later. More than 339 million Visa credit cards were active in America in 2008.

The average American consumer has access to nearly $20,000 on all of his credit card accounts combined. More than 50 percent of American consumers use almost 30 percent of their available credit card limit. The average age of a consumer’s oldest credit card account is 14 years old, with most purchases for things such as gas, clothing, dinning and travel purchases.

I am sure I could go on more and provide more examples. But when you stop and think about these things, as I have, I became more disturbed by what I discovered.

It’s time that we redefine what is normal in our society and in our lives. If there is to be any sort of future, we need to begin making changes this very minute because the longer we wait, the harder they will be to fix.

I am sure, there is someone out there who will find some way to criticize me and that is fine. After all, it is my life and not theirs.

Peace Dudes!

Inspirational quote of the week.

By Mike Aux-Tinee.

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
– Leo Tolstoy

 

The world is a very big and beautiful place. It’s what makes this place special, unique and so amazing. The world is in a constant state of change with every moment as different as the last. If something is so dynamic, what about it needs to be changed?

Well, it’s not the world that needs to be changed, we are the ones who need to be changed. It’s our cavalier attitudes that are causing more harm than good.

What harm you ask?

There are toxic gasses and other pollutants from the things we make that are dumped into the air and our water supplies. The land fills are closed because they have reached maximum capacity. Lead, mercury and other harmful chemicals are in the products we use and the food we eat.

There is so much CO2 in the atmosphere that even if we stopped using cars today, it would take the earth decades to eliminate all of the CO2.

Our computers, televisions and other appliances are toxic to the environment. Instead of dumping them here, they are shipped to third world countries to be dumped in their land fills. This transfers the pollution from one country to another.

Forests are being cleared and replaced with strip malls, shopping centers and subdivisions. All in the name of progress and for another few cents of tax revenues.

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But it is uncomfortable for us to admit we are the problem. It is much easier to point the finger away from us and at well, anyone or anything else.

It is a never-ending cycle when we consume more than we need in the short-term. The more we consume; the more we pollute,.

Happiness is not derived from having more things, but doing more. We need another path to happiness, one that incorporates a balance between production and environmental protection.

We need harmony between us and the environment. We need to eliminate the harmful chemicals from the air, water and our food. It is important to have a balance in our lives; socially, financially and spiritually. By achieving more inner peace, conflict, anger and hatred will disappear. A greater emphasis on personal development; reading, writing, art, music, travel and learning over possessions will lead to a smarter and well-rounded person.

It’s about the realization and understanding the path we are on is unsustainable. The longer we stay on this path, more damage will be done and it will be harded to fix.

Peace Dudes!

Do you know where your old electronic device ends up and what it does to the environment?

By Mike Aux-Tinee…

 

It’s getting time for you to replace that electronic gadget or gizmo. You know this because it does not work as well; the screen is fuzzy, things take longer to load and you need to yell so the other person can hear you.  Yea, it is time to send this thing packing.

To make your decision easier, companies are coming out with new products that are sleeker, faster and have an app for everything. Boy, they sure  know how to market these devices! You think, since it’s about to go out anyway, why not head to the store and pick up a new one!

Really now. Do you know and I mean really know what goes into making that new fangled gadget or gizmo and where it ultimately ends up? When I share the information, you may not be all that excited about getting a new one.

It is called e-waste. So, what is e-waste? It is made up of discarded, obsolete and broken electronic devices; cell phones, computers, televisions as well as refrigerators. Here are some of the hazardous materials in many of these products and how they are used:

  • Sulfur – lead-acid batteries
  • Cadmium – light-sensitive resistors
  • Lead – solder, monitor glass
  • Mercury – fluorescent tubes, thermostats

It should come as no surprise that both China and the United States produce a combined total of 5.3 million tons of e-waste a year and nearly 50 million tons are produced annually world-wide.

With so much waste being produced, it all needs to go somewhere. And that some where is to developing countries around the world. Countries such as China, India and many African nations are receiving waste for processing, many more are taking the waste and are becoming illegal dumping grounds.

Many countries do not have regulations in place to receive, process and safely dispose of the components. This exposes workers and surrounding communities to increased health risks from leaching materials from landfills and incinerators.

Those health risks include:

  • cancer
  • babies born with abnormally low birth weight
  • higher rates of mental retardation
  • premature death

So, how is that new device looking to you now? I hope not all that great. What can you do about reducing e-waste?

  • You should know your way around your own town, if not call and ask for directions then write it down on a piece of paper. Say good bye to the Tom-tom. Once done with the paper, recycle it.
  • Head to your local library and use the computer there. Do not replace yours.
  • Use internet forms of communication such as Skype.
  • Do not replace your television. Spend time on some other activity such as reading, exercising or taking a class.

I hope what I have shared with you has made you stop and think before you buy something. While your old device is out of sight and out of your life, it is causing someone else’s life a great deal of hard ship and misery. And that just is not cool.

Peace Dudes!